You love horses. You ride nearly every day. You possess ample knowledge of training techniques from teaching groundwork to discipline focused methods. You either manage a barn, own a barn or work at a horse training facility. At any of these locales, others hire and pay you to teach their horses to succeed in a chosen discipline or area of expertise such as round pen training or breaking a horse. You are a horse trainer.
Horse trainers observe horses in their care for illness and injuries. Depending on the size of the training facility, the job requires twice-daily feedings and daily maintenance of the barn such as cleaning of stalls, aisles, water buckets and horses. Trainers establish a training schedule for each horse and work daily with their charges. Trainers also advise potential horse owners about horses for sale.
Usually, horse trainers specialize in a discipline such as reining, western pleasure, cross country or racing. With the large variety of disciplines, it is nearly impossible not to focus on a sport such as barrel racing or breed such as Appaloosa. It helps trainers develop a reputation and increases demand for their services.
Experience is essential for a horse trainer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 edition, "most equine trainers learn their trade by working as a groom at a stable. Some study at an accredited private training school." Potential horse trainers can earn certifications, an associate degree or a bachelor's in equine studies and similar majors from schools throughout the United States. According to the New York State Department of Labor, New York requires horse trainers working in the state to acquire an occupational license. Other requirements may vary by state.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, trainers earned a median annual wage of $27,270 in 2008. The highest-paying states in 2008 included Minnesota, Georgia, Delaware, New Jersey and Connecticut. Farms in Minnesota paid trainers on average $38,180 a year, the highest of any state but employed only 80 trainers. Salary varies by type of facility and number of horses in that facility. Many horse trainers are independent contractors. Their income depends on the number of horses they train. They usually get paid by the month for each individual horse; each horse likely has a different owner.
In the next decade, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the need for animal care workers such as horse trainers to rise by 21 percent. In a 2008 report, it says facilities in Idaho had the highest concentration of trainers with 180 workers for 0.028 percent of state employment. Generally, farms in each state employ small numbers of horse trainers, but the profession has a high turnover rate. This creates ample opportunities for job seekers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 edition: Animal Trainers
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages for Animal Trainers
- New York State Department of Labor: Horse Trainer
- Career Planner: Horse Trainer Job Description and Jobs
- O*Net OnLine: Summary Report for Animal Trainers
- Photo Credit horse jumping a gate image by Clarence Alford from Fotolia.com